Author Archives: donnad

Javanese Puppets


The use of puppets in Java is very widespread. In fact, puppet shows and dance performances were and are the traditional types of entertainment and are often used for religious teaching in Java. There are 3 types of puppets made in Java: wayang kulit – leather shadow puppets, wayang golek –wooden 3 dimensional puppets, wayang kelitik – flat wooden puppets from Eastern Java.
The leather shadow puppets are the most sacred and as far as I know are used exclusively for performing legends from the Hindu epics: The Mahabarata Epic and The Ramyana Tale. You may be surprised that stories from Hindu epics are performed in Java as Java is known as a predominately Islamic culture. However, both Hinduism and Buddhism predate Islam in Java. As Java had a very highly developed culture at the time of the Islamic invasion in the 16th century, older religious beliefs were not completely eradicated. At the present there are 2 types of Muslims: the Santri Muslims who have strict Islamic beliefs, and the Abangan Muslims who practise a syncretistic religion which includes Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. The Abangan Muslims are the most numerous and as a group hold the most political power. I do have some leather shadow puppets for sale, but because they are leather, they tend to curl somewhat if not held down flat. However, I do have some leather puppets for sale and if you are particularly interested in them, contact me and I will send you some pictures and details.
I have found the wayang golek to be the most popular with customers as they look like statues. Many wayang golek do not have the features of the Hindu epic characters, so I assume that they are used mainly for historical plays. All the puppets are hand carved and hand painted. It’s interesting to note that the men wear hats whereas the women do not wear hats. Usually people purchase stands for their puppets, but it is not necessary as their sticks can be put in large empty bottles filled partly with sand to stabilize them.
The flat wooden puppets are made both as Hindu epic characters and traditionally dressed Javanese people. They are carved and painted on both sides. In this case it is necessary to purchase a nicely finish puppet stand.
Noble Hindu epic characters have sloping faces and almond shaped eyes. The fact that they are looking down shows that they are modest which is considered to be a very good quality by the Javanese.
Marriage couples are a very popular subject for traditional arts and crafts in Java. Note that men wear hats and and women do not.
Wayang golek puppets are inexpensive substitutes for statues.



Halloween is coming soon & I have quite a few Balinese hand carved wooden dancers “topeng” masks which can be worn at Halloween and then put on your wall – perhaps to add to your mask collection.  The Balinese masks have slits under the eyes to see and holes in the nose to breathe.  #81 & #82 (a man and a woman) are noble characters.

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#83 is a powerful character represented by the crown but he is not a virtuous person as is shown by his large bulging eyes and reddish brown complexion.  #84 is an old man mask.  The old man solo dance is performed frequently in Bali.

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#88 is a Javanese mask.  He is Cakil, an evil character in the Mahabharata Epic.  His red face and long fangs symbolize undesirable character qualities.

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#91 is Rangda,  a widow witch, who represents pure evil in Bali – a female devil.  This mask is made to be worn over the head.

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#92 & #93 are Leyaks (devils)  who accompany Rangda in many Balinese plays.  They are both authentic masks made of wood, leather and horse hair and meant to be worn over the head.

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Also, I have a Balinese pig head carved wooden mask which is not pictured.

These inexpensive masks from Vietnam are made of rattan so could be worn for Halloween as one can see and breathe through the rattan.  Also, I have small masks perfect for children which are not pictured.    #111a, #111b, #111c, #111d & , #111e

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Happy Halloween!    Have fun!

Donna Davidson



Well, it looks as though I may be a little late for Fathers’ Day (except for those who live in the Montreal area), but it’s useful to get some ideas for gifts for those hard-to-buy-for men.

I have a number of boxes which make good gifts for men  (#302, #308 & #310), These boxes are all from Lombok.

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Icons might be another good idea.  Some men I know identify with St. George (and the Dragon) — #203 Bulgaria.  #200 is an old icon of a Romanian patriarch.  #204 is an attractive cloth icon of St. Nicolas from Bulgaria.

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Small square carpets make good gifts for men.  They can be used for coffee table decorations or on a chair.  Both of the following carpets are from Uzbekistan:  #511 is made of silk and #512 (much less expensive) is made of wool.

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Decorative wooden ikats holders can be used as tie hangers or as a decoration over door frames (#240, #240B).  Both hangers are from Lombok.

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Coasters are useful gifts. #401 is lacquer from Vietnam & #536 & #535 are from Lombok and are made of wood and rattan.  All these coasters have boxes which can be useful in other ways.

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Sometimes men do like cushion covers with masculine designs.  #273, #274, #275 & #276 are from Vietnam.  They’re hand embroidered by hill tribes from the Sapa Valley.  #259 is from Turkey and is a representation of whirling dervishes.

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Happy Fathers’ Day!

Donna Davidson

Happy New Year!

                                                           HAPPY  NEW YEAR!   2015

Happy New Year! I’m afraid that it has been a long time since I have written  anything on my blog, but the Chinese New Year is coming soon. It will be celebrated on Feb. 19 and it will be the Year of the Goat. You may want to purchase a gift for a friend or family member who was born under this sign in the Chinese zodiac.

I have a number of goat figures, but only two are on this website. The first is a small,but delightful Javanese metal goat – #577.

Another is a hand carved wooden sitting goat from Thailand. He looks great on a shelf! # 647.

Happy New Year to all our Far Eastern friends and to all those who follow the Chinese Zodiac!

Father’s Day

 FATHERS’ DAY   2014

Father’s Day was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd in The United States. Her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran and a widower raised his six children by himself.  In those days this was very unusual as most motherless children were brought up by various relatives. [This happened in my family.]

After hearing a sermon on Mother’s Day, Sonora told her minister that fathers should have a similar day to celebrate their contributions to their families. The first Father’s Day celebration was in Spokane, Washington in 1910.

Initially the celebration of Father’s Day did not meet with much success, but in 1930 Sonora started a nationwide campaign. Unlike Mother’s Day, most of the promotion was commercial and Sonora solicited the manufacturers of men’s clothing and giftware. In 1938 the Father’s Day Council founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers organized the promotion of Father’s Day on a large scale.

Many Americans resisted the celebration of Father’s Day seeing it only as a commercial venture but the strong promotional campaigns continued and eventually succeeded. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day, and in 1972 President Richard Nixon made it a legal national holiday.

Father’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world – frequently on different dates. Also, in many countries [including Canada] Father’s Day is not a legal holiday.

I have many items on my website which would make suitable Father’s day gifts.  A large number of men like masks and I have a great deal of them on my website.  The mask below [#111] is a hand carved mask from Vietnam.

Mirrors are not usually a high priority with men, but the one below from Lombok with a mother of pearl inlaid design would be perfect for a man’s apartment or home.  #17

I have a number of hand woven rattan and hand carved wooden boxes from Lombok which might appeal to men. #308

More items from Lombok which men [or women] would find useful are these rattan and wood coasters which come in boxes.  The wooden coasters come from Vietnam and the rattan ones are from Lombok. #535

This is a wooden box for Vietnam which could make a good gift for a man.

Roosters are symbols of male virility in many cultures.  This hand carved and hand painted rooster is from Bali.   #141

Is your father a fisherman?  This hand carved wooden statue of a fisherman from Bali might make a good gift.

Many men have a liking for the bizarre, as I do. This colorful hand carved wooden panel is from Lombok.

Happy Father’s Day!

Donna Davidson

Mother’s Day

We all celebrate Mother’s Day, but have you ever wondered how this holiday came about?

It is said that the early Greeks worshipped Rhea, the Mother of the Gods in the spring. In England starting in the 16th Century, a holiday called Mothering Day was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent when everyone, even servants, went home to spend the day with their families.

Mother’s Day as we celebrate it now can be traced to three American women: Julia Ward Howe, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis and her daughter, Anna Jarvis. In a large part, Mother’s Day started as a peace movement.

In 1857, Anne Marie Jarvis, a Methodist minister’s daughter married to the son of a Baptist minister, organized Mothers’ Day Working Clubs to improve the sanitation and health of families. In 1865 after the end of the Civil War, she organized Mothers’ Friendship Groups to try to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbours.

Julia Ward Howe, a brilliant poet, writer, activist, suffragette and lecturer was influenced by Anne Marie Jarvis’ work and was appalled by the devastation and suffering the Civil War had brought about. [During the Civil War on the suggestion of a friend she wrote the lyrics for THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC which was published in 1861.] She believed that peace was one of the most important world issues, the other being justice. In 1870 she wrote THE MOTHERS’ DAY PROCLAMATION FOR PEACE urging women all over the world to oppose war in all its forms. In 1872 she promoted the idea of a MOTHERS’ DAY FOR PEACE to be held on June 2.  It was celebrated in Boston for 10 years and in some other areas of the United States for 30 years.

It was Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Marie Jarvis who finally manage to establish Mother’s Day as a holiday.  In 1907 she held a memorial service for her mother three years after her death. During the following years she campaigned relentlessly to make Mother’s Day an established holiday. She wrote hundreds of letters to influential people and by 1911, it was being celebrated in most of the states of the Union. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May. Since then the celebration of Mother’s Day has spread around the world. Most countries celebrate it in April or May.

I have many suitable gifts for Mother’s Day on my website. In addition for those living in the Montreal area, I have a great deal of jewelry for sale which are not on my website. I can be contacted at 514-739-5744 or at

I have many hand carved marble boxes with flower motifs from Viet Nam which would make wonderful Mother’s Day gifts such as the ones below.   [#294 -301]

For a mother who is a musician, perhaps a hand carved marble  musician from Vietnam would  be suitable.  [#145-6]  Other musicians from Vietnam made of resin are less expensive. [#519-21]

Many mothers like cat and there are many hand carved wooden cats on my website.  [#325-339] Also, I have very cute cloisonne cats.  [#340-344]

Happy Mother’s Day!

Donna Davidson

Valentine’s Day 2014

I’m a little late in posting my Valentine’s Day blog, but Valentine’s items are appropriate for wedding, anniversary and engagement gifts through the year.

The first 4 items I posted on last year’s Valentine’s blog – Jan., 2013 are still available, but the large Javanese marriage couple was sold to a museum in South Korea.  A similar marriage couple is still available #124 in the Statues section. Another suitable gift could be the following wood panel from Bali.  #74

Marriage couples are a very popular theme in Java. The statues below are definitely of the folk art variety. – #128

The following marriage couple puppets are from Java. #147, 148

These Javanese puppets are characters from the Hindu epics.  #153, 154

The Javanese puppets below are both men so could be suitable for a gay couple. In java, men wear hats and women don’t.  #159,160

This small inexpensive marriage couple is from Java, also. #586

Another small unusual Javanese marriage couple.  #587

There are still plenty of beautifully carved marble boxes from Vietnam. #296,297

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Donna Davidson

Happy New Year!

I’m late in wishing you a Happy New Year.  – I even missed Chinese New Year even though I celebrated it with some friends.

I’m always so busy during the Christmas season that most of my Christmas cards turn into new Year’s cards. One of my friends said that no-one is interested in receiving Christmas cards after New Year’s.  I disagree. The point of sending Christmas cards is to keep in touch with people who don’t live in the same city or those one doesn’t see regularly.  Some friends even outdid me in tardiness. I only received their Christmas letter last Fri.! Anyway, Happy New Year everyone!

This is the Chinese Year of the Horse and if you are looking for a gift, a horse might be a good choice -especially if that person was born in the Year of the Horse. I have a whole section on my website on Horses and here are a few of them. These horses were hand carved in good quality wood in Thailand. #313-15

The following very beautiful hand carved wooden panel of a flying horse is from Bali and is not in the horse section – #32.

This large very expressive wooden horse in movement was hand carved in Bali. Also, it includes a large quite intricately carved stand which doesn’t appear on the website. -#319

The following item is a metal candle stick holder which was hand crafted in Bali.  It would make a good gift for one of those hard to buy for men. – #321 – This candle holder was sold as a birthday gift for someone who loves horses after I wrote this draft.

Another metal hand crafted metal horse candle stick holder from Java. #322

This rather cute hand carved wooden double bell horse is from Lombok. It is carved and painted on both sides so does not have to be hung on a wall. #323

One last suggestion is a hand carved wooden double horse head from Bali. It is in the Wooden Panels section. #68

There are a few other horse objects on my website that you may like -mainly in the Horse and Cat section.

A belated Happy New Year to all of you!  It’s even possible to make New Year’s Resolutions in February.  That’s what I’m doing!


I had a fabulous trip to Uzbekistan a few years ago and would like to share some of it with you.  As you probably know, the government in Uzbekistan is very problematic, and if you don’t take a tour, getting a visa can be very difficult and expensive.  However, when you get  there it is not expensive and the history, experience and food is great! Tashkent is not a very interesting city, but in the  south of Uzbekistan, there are there famous ancient Silk Road cities: Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva [still a walled city]. The most striking art  form in Uzbekistan is the suzanis [Uzbekistan embroideries] which were traditionally used to decorate yurts [round tents]. Today suzanis are extensively used to decorate homes, hotels and restaurants. Below is a picture of a suzani I bought in Uzbekistan. -#233 on the website.This is a picture of a shop in Samarkand.  Note the pile of suzanis on the woman’s right.

I had a private tour of the Silk Road cities for $100 per day which included hotels,  transport, all food, and an English speaking guide in each city.  Below is a picture of the hotel outdoor dining room where I stayed in  Samarkand. Note the use of suzanis for decoration.

The hotel was the home of the owner of the tour agency I was with.  If you would like a tour of Uzbekistan or the Silk Road cities, you might like to contact him in Samarkand. He speaks very good French and some English. I’m sure that some of his employees speak English well.

When I travel, I like to see all the traditional folk arts [rather than the commercial shows] so I went to a traditional theatre performance in Bukhara. The traditional theatre uses actors, and elaborate hand puppets as you see in the picture below. This performance had music and a little boy riding a stick horse – maybe to show changes of scenes.

In the show, sometimes only puppets were used.

Sometimes only actors were used.

And sometimes actors and puppets are used together.  Note the use of a suzani as a stage curtain.

Here is a picture of the boy with his stick horse and the musician.

In Bukhara, many suzanis are made in pastel shades as in #233 below. # 234 and #235 on the website were bought in Bukhara, also.

Bukhara is also the home town of the Islamic funny man, Nasraddin. There are many folk tales about him. I bought some quite hilarious water colour pictures of him in compromising situations. They are for sale, but are not on my website.  Here is a statue of Nasdraddin and his faithful donkey.

Finally here is a picture of me and my hotel in Bukhara.

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That’s all for now.  I do apologize for the dark colours of some of my photos of the folk theatre production. [I must learn more about Photo Shop!] In my next blog I’ll give you information about the intriguing city of Khiva.

I hope you’re having a good summer.

Donna Davidson

50% Sale on Kilims and Carpets for June and July, 2013

I have been to Turkey 3 times and was very impressed with the town of Selcuk which is very close to Ephesus. Selcuk is a charming town which dates back to Byzantine times, and today still keeps much of its old Turkish character. I visited Selcuk twice and bought all of my kilims there.

I have been to Turkey 3 times and was very impressed with Selcuk which is very close to Ephesus. Selcuk is a very charming town which dated back to Byzantine times. I visited Selcuk twice and bought all my kilims there.  #502 above is
a fairly large hand woven kilimI have been to Turkey 3 times and was very impressed with Selcuk which is very close to Ephesus. Selcuk is a very charming town which dated back to Byzantine times and still maintains much of its Turkish character.  I visited Selcuk twice and bought all my kilims there.

Anyone living in a home built in the 1920s or before has some very long hallways, and this exquisite handmade kilim [#503] would be perfect for any hallway.

#502 is a fairly large hand woven kilim.

Below is a beautifully designed small kilim featuring 2 stags and other animals [#510]. Obviously this kilim deserves an important place on you wall, not on the floor.

My carpets are all handmade an were purchased in the southern part of Morocco. #509 is a thick finely woven carpet and was bought in the Atlas region of Morocco.

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#507 is a spectacular very large pastel thick handmade carpet which was purchased in a carpet making town on the road from The Atlas to Essoaouria. It features Berber symbols and the colours are somewhat lighter than those shown in the picture – pink rather than light red. I have some terrific pictures of this rug making town, but alas, I visited Morocco before I owned a digital camera so will have to scan them. Please keep reading my blogs!

Essaouria is a walled Berber city on the Atlantic and has been inhabited since pre-historic times. It is well worth a visit.  Be sure to stay inside the city walls. You will see many wonderful sights!

June is the month for weddings. For some suitable wedding and engagement gifts check my Feb. blog and the rest of my website.

Take advantage of the 5o% sale on kilims and carpets. They could make good wedding gifts, too.

-Until next time.

Donna Davidson